October 1, 2010
Google Fixes the Untitled Document Problem
In my Dreamweaver classes I have students Google “Untitled Document”. The results are astounding. Currently Google lists 82,600,000 pages that match that search.
“Untitled Document” is the unfortunate (though accurate) text Dreamweaver uses for a new web page’s <title> tag. Unfortunately it’s easy to forget to change the title to something that accurately describes the page’s content–people have obviously missed this step at least 82 million times!
What’s worse is that Google usually uses a web page’s title as the name of the link in its search results–so if you created a page about “Bolivian Apples” but left the title as “Untitled Document,” when someone searched for Bolivian Apples, Google would display a big blue “Untitled Document” link to your page. At least that’s how it worked until recently. Someone at Google apparently got fed up with this “Untitled Document” problem and came up with a solution. Somehow they’ve figured out a way to derive a more descriptive title to replace Dreamweaver’s default title text. Go ahead, try a Google search on “Untitled Document” and you’ll see that Jeff Koons’ home page — a page with the “Untitled Document” title — is merely listed as Jeff Koons. Thank you Google!
However, even though the untitled pages you create in Dreamweaver will not look weird in search result pages, that page’s search engine ranking will be negatively effected. Search engines use the title tag as an important indicator of that page’s content. A well crafted title — descriptive and accurate keyword phrases — will go a long way in helping your page rise to the top of searches.
P.S. Dreamweaver has a tool to help out with this problem. When you finish your site (or add a bunch of pages to your site), you can check to see if you’ve forgotten to title any of your pages:
- Choose Site -> Reports.
- In the Reports window, select “Entire Current Local Site” from the “Report on” menu.
- Check the “Untitled Documents” box.
- Click the Run button. Dreamweaver will then check your site for any page’s with the “Untitled Document” problem, and display the results in the Results pane at the bottom of the screen.
- Double click each page listed in the Results pane to open the page and change the title to something more descriptive.